He was left battered and bruised by a group of armed robbers who stormed his Hamilton dairy for cash and cigarettes.

But eight months prior, Kyung Hwan Oh lost his job as a financial manager after pilfering just over $45,000 over two years.

Oh, who now owns the Hillcrest Minimart on Cambridge Rd, says he's now struggling to survive at the dairy which through his lawyer Seung Youn, told Judge Philip Connell in the Hamilton District Court today that he's living off $300 a week.

Oh is the owner and sole employee at his dairy and on the morning of March 17 was left for dead in a pool of blood when three robbers burst into his shop and rained hammer blows to his head.

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The 59-year-old former South Korean soldier was eventually discovered by a delivery man.

"They rushed through the door. They jumped up [onto the counter], and they carry some bags, and all of them carry a hammer.

"I was sitting here and I tried standing and he hit me. They tried to kill me."

But today a different story was told about Oh and his thieving which he attributed to the breakdown of his marriage.

He started in the production team at Gourmet Foods Ltd in 2002 before he got a promotion, six years later, as financial manager.

Hamilton dairy owner Kyung Hwan Oh was brutally bashed in a robbery in March, seven months after losing his job after stealing $45,000. Photo / Belinda Feek
Hamilton dairy owner Kyung Hwan Oh was brutally bashed in a robbery in March, seven months after losing his job after stealing $45,000. Photo / Belinda Feek

Between July 2014 and September 2016 he proceeded to make more than 100 deposits into two of his own bank accounts of just over $34,000.

The thefts ranged from $100 up to about $2,000. He also racked up $11,053.85 on the company's fuel card, the two last purchases of which were made after he'd already left due to the offending.

First he told police he didn't know anything about them and then tried to justify them by saying he was helping settle a refugee family.

But through his lawyer, Youn, he blamed it on the breakdown of his marriage.

After losing his job he then bought the dairy and was subjected to the early-morning attack.

Youn said Oh, who had lived in New Zealand for 18 years, was remorseful for what happened and wanted to pay the money back. However, as he only turned over a $300 a week profit he would only be able to pay $50 per week.

He'd offered to attend a restorative justice conference with his former employer but they turned it down, Youn said.

He urged the judge to sentence his client as per a probation report which recommended community detention.

However, Judge Connell was unimpressed and said his offending was more serious than that and qualified for a jail term.

"Look at the breach of trust. He's leading into a jail term of around 18 months," the judge told Youn.

The judge also didn't believe his story about helping a family of immigrants.

"You cooked up a story about what this money was for and maintained that you were helping a family immigrate and if that was truthful it would have been verified and some sympathy might have been given to you by the court. I reject utterly that explanation because you don't name the people you say you were helping.

"This is simply money you took ... as a result of some grievance that you had with your former employers."

He said community detention was inappropriate to mark the thefts and instead handed down a sentence of seven months' home detention.

He also ordered he pay reparation of $12,000 at $50 per week.